Term 3 – we’ve arrived!

We’re into the sunshine term of hat wearing and late evenings. Early bedtimes for the girls are harder to achieve with sunlight streaming through the curtains. The garden is such a wonderful temptation and hard for them to resist. I’m having to work extra hard to ensure a proper ‘wind down’ at the end of the day for the girls. All too frequently it’s a ‘wind up’!

Charli ‘surfing’ at Houghton Valley Playground:

Of course, I wouldn’t mind if there was no school in the morning… but alas there is. I recall last summer holidays when they got into a routine of going to sleep happily around 9.30pm and waking around 8.30/9.00am. And ‘sun safety’ wise it was the best time for them to be outside playing! Over the holidays we’d retreat indoors at midday and enjoy a little ‘siesta’ of reading and game playing – but at school they’re outdoors when all the health recommendations state, ‘Seek shade between 11am and 4pm’.

In New Zealand the danger of skin cancer is exacerbated by the hole in the Ozone layer over the country (which overall is reported to be getting smaller – though it varies all the time – this year it’s larger – but reports suggest it may even close up entirely by 2075 – a lifetime for our children!). The Cancer Society have an information leaflet on being ‘Sun Smart’ and explaining the ‘Ozone layer’.

Oops! No sun-hat! But it was before 11am (on the school hols) and at least we get a ‘star sticker’ for long sleeves!

Anyway, enough of the rant (but there’s another one coming later in this post!). The weather this week has been sunshine and good times. A little wind – but nothing too strong to put us off venturing forth at the beach and the playgrounds. All the neighbours have come out of winter hibernation and we’re frequently enjoying a natter in the early evening sun. It’s wonderful to hear the sound of children playing (and crying/throwing tantrums – and rejoice when it isn’t coming from my back-yard!). Many of the neighbours are fond of music and most have good taste. ‘Piano man‘ has been playing for countless hours this week (he’s probably been on ‘New Zealand’s Got Talent‘ and I wouldn’t even know!).

This evening, however, there’s a change in the air (Mary Poppins must be flying in for a visit!). The rain has rolled in this evening (in time for the weekend) and the news report I’m listening to as I type reports a ‘cold front’ on its way. Ah well, that is the reality of spring and my garden says, ‘Bring it on, I’m thirsty!’

It’s been a ‘milestone’ week for Sophie, with her first session at the creche at our local swimming pool. It was a piece of cake! She said to me, ‘Mummy, I want you to enjoy a long swim. I’ll be okay. The teacher’s will look after me’. I left with a beaming smile on my face and there were no tears.

Come on Mum! It’s time for creche!

The creche session is only for two hour’s and I was only away for just over an hour for Sophie’s first time. As I swam up and down the pool my eyes couldn’t take themselves off the creche – which is on level one overlooking the pool. Sophie was wearing a bright red ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ top and I was delighted that not once did I see her splayed against the window looking out anxiously for me in the pool. When I returned to creche she didn’t even notice me as I crept in. I was so proud of her and felt so liberated in myself. Thank you Sophie so much!

Charli has been back at school and is overall happy. However, the reading ‘scheme’ goes on a colour code and she’s become fixated on going up the colour ladder (second rant incoming!). I wish there was a more discreet scheme so the children didn’t compare themselves against others. She is extremely motivated and has always been very driven and independent. I’ll never forget, when she was two year’s old and very tired, how she insisted on doing up the buttons on her P-Jays by herself. I could see she was desperately tired, but she wouldn’t accept any help. She persevered for three quarters of an hour and finally succeeded. Of course she was so over-tired by this time that it was hard for her to then get to sleep! This is the pattern of her life!

Charli has always been so determined to do things before she is physically ready, which causes her great frustration at times. She is also such a sensitive soul and takes failure to heart in a big way. She’s a perfectionist and I admire the way her teachers deliberately make mistakes to show the children it’s ‘okay’ and teach them the coping mechanisms to move forward calmly and not take it to heart.

Anyway, this week she’s been talking about ‘red books’ and how easy they are. She has asked to move onto ‘yellow books’ – even writing in the parent/teacher communication book that comes home each night (unbeknown to us!), ‘Please can I move onto yellow books, now’. She is reading them extremely well and they are easier than books she picks up and reads at home, but I also understand that there is a need for her to know certain ‘key words’ inside out before progressing. Understandably, it wouldn’t be wise for her to be pushed forward too quickly and then feel over-challenged and disheartened.

This evening, she proudly read all her ‘Poem Book’ that comes home each Thursday with a poem linked to the letter of the week and then got engrossed in numerous other books and projects. She has such an incredible concentration span and will happily busy herself with writing and reading for well over an hour at a time (she’s always been like this).

By eight o’clock, and with Sophie fast asleep, I knew it was time Charli was upstairs and cuddled up in bed with a story, but she really didn’t want to stop. Finally, we got up to bed at 8.30pm and put on her favourite classical music CD and read a story. At 9.10pm she came downstairs in tears. She was over-tired and couldn’t get to sleep. She has a couple of nasty sand-fly bites (friends that have lived in NZ and now left for other shores tell me that they don’t miss the little critters in the slightest – that’s no surprise!). It seems the more a sand-fly bite is itched the longer it stays (and itches). Dealing with bites in a child is hard as their desire to itch is so strong! We’ve found gentle rubbing with a mixture of salt and water helps and then covering the bite with a plaster to prevent the itching causing skin damage and increasing the risk of infection. If left alone they clear up in a few days – with Charli it’s a week of misery (for all of us)! She’s frequently plagued by them (Sophie is more fortunate – Charli says, ‘They don’t like Sophie’s blood because it tastes sour!’).

It’s now close to 10pm and she’s finally asleep, but she sobbed so much and was going on and on about wanting to go onto yellow books. It really upsets me that a reading scheme can cause so much anxiety in a child. Learning should be fun and when the joy goes out of learning, so too does the will to learn. I’m really hoping we can resolve this before it manifests itself into a mountain out of a mile hill scenario.

Today has been industrious for me too. Sophie has no adapted to having mostly me for company and after our little outings in the mornings to the library, play-dates, swimming etc. we spend a few hours at home before school pick-up. Today, she put on a fancy dress ball for her teddy bears. We turned up the music, played instruments, danced, dressed up – fabulous fun!

Whilst I did my laundry she painted. Whilst I started the mammoth task of cleaning out our car, before it became a health hazard, and tidying up the garage (before it became rat infested!) she played on her scooter and filled up dump truck loads full of gravel (which is supposed to go on the plant beds, but always ends up scattered around everywhere making walking with bare feet uncomfortable – for the adults (the girls are oblivious!).

The day started at 6.30am. It’s now 11.00pm. I’m glad it’s nearly the weekend and we can enjoy family time. Thanks for listening! Sarah xx